The North Cascades Highway is now only days away from reopening for the season.

The 44-mile stretch of State Route 20 closes annually during the winter months from the Ross Dam Trailhead to Early Winters due to heavy snow and persistent avalanche risks.

Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson Lauren Loebsack says most of the roadway has been cleared of snow but there's still a bit more work for crews to perform before it can reopen.

"There was some avalanche control work done up there on Tuesday which brought down a substantial amount of snow with several slides that crossed the roadway, including one that was about 25 feet deep. So clearing work is going to require the rest of this work week and take us into next week."

Crews must also clear debris from the roadway and replace or repair guard railing and signage before reopening the highway.

Despite the road's unreadiness for vehicle traffic, Loebsack says a good portion of it is open to recreationists.

"For bicyclists who enjoy recreation behind the closure points, you are going to be able to get all the way across Rainy and Washington Passes. That part of the highway is open and this is that rare window for recreationists to get out there and bike behind the closure points before we open for vehicles."

Loebsack says, if Mother Nature cooperates and there are no equipment issues or other unforeseen delays, the North Cascades Highway should be reopen by next weekend (Friday, May 12), just in time for Mother's Day.

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